Health Highlights: Nov. 27, 2013

By on November 27, 2013

Health Highlights: Nov. 27, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Princeton Students Can Get Meningitis Vaccine Starting Dec. 9

A meningitis B vaccine will be offered at Princeton University beginning in early December, the school said Tuesday.

On Friday, the university announced the eighth reported case of meningitis B this year.

The vaccine will be available to certain groups of people recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include all undergraduate students, graduate students living in dorms or the Graduate College and annexes, and other people in the university community who have certain medical conditions, according to CNN.

The first dose of the vaccine will be available at the university’s Frist Campus Center from Dec. 9 to 12, and the second dose will be available in February. For maximum protection, people must receive two doses. The cost of the vaccine will be covered by Princeton.

Previously, university spokesman Martin Mbugua said the vaccine would be recommended for about 5,000 undergraduates and 550 graduate students in dorms, CNN reported.


U.S. Government Moves to Keep Ban on Payments for Bone Marrow Donors

The U.S. government is taking steps to maintain a ban on paying bone marrow donors.

The move comes in response to a 2011 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that some marrow donors could be compensated if they donated marrow-producing cells through a newer blood-filtering instead of the older method of extracting marrow cells from inside the bone, the Associated Press reported.

In its ruling, the court noted that it’s legal to pay donors of blood plasma, which is collected using a method that’s similar to the newer one used to gather bone marrow-producing cells.

The federal government’s proposal on banning payment for all types of bone marrow donations is open for public comment through Monday.

“It is not a matter of how you obtain it,” Shelley Grant of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s transplant division, told the AP. “Whether we obtain them through the marrow or the circulatory system, it is those stem cells that provide a potential cure.”


Gynecologists Can Treat Men: Board

Gynecologists can treat men for sexually transmitted infections and screen men for anal cancer, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology said Tuesday.

The statement reverses restrictions announced in September that said gynecologists could lose their board certification if they treated men. While exceptions were made to allow certain procedures, screening men at high risk for anal cancer was not permitted, The New York Times reported.

The board explained that it wanted to protect the profession as a female specialty and limit the non-gynecological work performed by its members.

But after pressure from anal cancer experts and patient advocates, the board reconsidered and realized that gynecologists have a long tradition of treating sexually transmitted infections in both women and men, according to Dr. Kenneth Noller, the board’s director of evaluation.

Anal cancer is usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted, The Times reported.


Obamacare Contraception Fight Goes to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to review provisions in the Affordable Care Act that require companies of a certain size to offer employees insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay.

The court will examine whether non-profit organizations and private companies can snub the requirement by claiming it violates their religious beliefs. Oral arguments will likely be heard in March and a ruling issued by late June, CNN reported.

Nearly 100 lawsuits have been filed in federal court challenging the contraception coverage provision. Three federal appeals courts have struck down the birth control rule, while two others have upheld it.

Companies that refuse to provide the coverage could be fined up to $1.3 million a day, CNN reported.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case is an “important fight for Americans’ religious liberty,” according to Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby, one of the companies challenging the birth control provision.

The owners of Hobby Lobby say there is a clash between their Christian beliefs and the fact that some of the drugs that would be provided under the rule prevent human embryos from being implanted in the womb, which they equate to abortion. They do not object to providing other forms of contraception, such as condoms and diaphragms, for their employees, CNN reported.

Federal government officials say their are rules that exempt certain nonprofit groups and religiously-affiliated organizations from the contraceptives coverage requirement. In such cases, women would receive coverage from another company at no cost.

Supporters of the law note it does not require individual company owners to personally provide coverage they might find objectionable, but instead puts that responsibility on the corporate entity, CNN reported.

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